Indiana to 'Spring Forward' for First Time Since 1971

Indiana has been a holdout on daylight-saving time. But because of a bill passed in the legislature last year, Indiana residents will have to move their clocks forward for the first time since 1971. Rene Burton, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Pulaski County, Ind., talks with Melissa Block.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

This Sunday at 2:00 a.m., Indiana will venture into Daylight Savings Time for the first time since 1971. Most of Indiana has been a holdout in the spring forward department, but last year, the state legislature passed an extremely controversial bill that puts the whole state on Daylight Savings Time, effective this weekend.

For the people of Pulaski County in the northwestern part of the state, there was a double-whammy. Along with having to switch to Daylight Savings Time, the Department of Transportation moved them from Eastern time into the Central time zone, so if they were going to spring forward, they'd also have to fall back at the same time.

If you're confused, so are we, so we decided to call Renee Burton. She's president of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce and manager of the First Source Bank in Winamac, and she says people in the county are just saying no to Central time.

Ms. RENEE BURTON (Chamber of Commerce in Pulaski County, Indiana): Our commissioner and our president of the County Council has encouraged the county to go with the DOT's recommendation of Central, but the businesses and the people have chosen to still observe Eastern time.

BLOCK: Why is this such a big deal? Why is there so much confusion and consternation about this?

Ms. BURTON: Well, it all started when Mitch Daniels was talking about changing the time.

BLOCK: This is the Governor of Indiana?

Ms. BURTON: Yes, it is. We assumed that he was talking about changing one state to one time, but then when the ruling came back that it was going to be Pulaski County on Central time, but the majority of our surrounding counties is on Eastern time, we petitioned that we be also put back on Eastern time. We don't want to be on Central time. It's going to be a problem with the schools. Some of our students come from Fulton County, Jasper County, and it's going to be an issue with the kids getting up or having to be on the bus by 6:00 in the morning.

BLOCK: Because they would be on Eastern Time while you would be on Central time?

Ms. BURTON: Correct. Their sports schedules are going to be all messed up. We're the only school in our division that would have been on Central time. The kids would have been home before the parents with leaving kids unattended at home. The hospital has a very large home healthcare unit, and a lot of their employees or a lot of their patients they service are in the Eastern time zone, so it was going to be confusing for the elderly and the sick, the specialty doctors that come in here because it is a small hospital, and the specialty doctors come from either Lafayette, Indianapolis or South Bend, and, once again, they're all on Eastern time.

BLOCK: Well, I guess nobody can force you to change your clock if you don't want to.

Ms. BURTON: I don't see how they can. I honestly don't understand why they care. There seems to be a whole lot bigger issues going on in this country besides what time my clock's set on, and I understand that they're the government, and I understand that they'd like us to apply, but honestly, if it works for us, I don't understand why we should. We can say that we're on their Central time to give them a warm fuzzy, but, honestly, we'll all set our clocks for Eastern time, and we're pretty much going to stay on Eastern time.

BLOCK: Are there places in the county, though, that will be sticking by the rules and changing to Central time? It sounds like it could be awfully confusing there.

Ms. BURTON: The DOT wants the courthouse and the post office to be on Central time, and that was a non-negotiable in the contract here, so that was fine. We moved their clocks to Central time, and then we changed the hours they're open, so they're going to be on Eastern Time hours.

BLOCK: Oh, I see, so you'll just sort of compensate that way.

Ms. BURTON: Yeah, so it's still going to be geared toward Eastern Time.

BLOCK: You know, I have to tell you when I was trying to figure out what's going on there with this time zone business and the Daylight Savings Time business, I found a whole web page that was called What Time is it in Indiana?

Ms. BURTON: Yes. Exactly.

BLOCK: Good question.

Ms. BURTON: It is a very good question, and it's ridiculous that it's this confusing. It doesn't need to be. Indianapolis is our state capital, and Indianapolis is what we ought to base our time on so that everybody in one state knows exactly what time it is, no matter if you're at the north or the south.

BLOCK: Renee Burton, thanks so much for talking with us.

Ms. BURTON: Well, thank you very much for the opportunity.

BLOCK: And have fun switching over to Daylight Savings Time.

Ms. BURTON: Oh, it's not going to be a problem.

BLOCK: Renee Burton is president of the Chamber of Commerce in Pulaski County, Indiana, which is, theoretically, on Central time as of this weekend, if not in practice.

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